Kazakhstan lies at the heart of Central Asia, a land of deserts and mountains the size of western Europe yet sparsely populated and astonishingly rich in both birdlife and flora. This action-packed tour provides a taste of Himalayan birdwatching in the Tien Shan Mountains where Himalayan Snowcock and Himalayan Rubythroat may be seen. We should also see a wide variety of Palearctic migrants in the deserts, lakes and canyons visited elsewhere during the tour. Utilizing desert camps to access these wild areas, we’ll look for such highly prized Central Asian birds as Macqueen's Bustard, Pallas's Sandgrouse, Yellow-eyed Stock Dove and White-winged Lark, and witness an ever-changing kaleidoscope of spring migration on a scale far beyond that in Europe.
- Spectacular mountain scenery in the Tien Shan
- Himalayan Snowcock, Himalayan Rubythroat & Guldenstadt's Redstart
- Chance of observing nesting Ibisbill
- Stay in remote desert camps
- MacQueen's Bustard, Pallas's Sandgrouse & other Central Asian specialities
- Enjoy spring migration – many species uncommon or rare in Europe
- Tremendous flora including wild Tulips
- Escorted by a Naturetrek ornithologist
All included in cost of tour.
We will use a tourist hotel in Almaty, each room with private facilities. Combination of private camp sites providing the necessary tents, loo tents, cook and camp staff for these nights, and simple guest-houses.
Himalayan Rubythroat (Dr Colin Bradshaw)
Day 4 Almaty- Observatory
Day 5/6 Tien Shan Mountains/ Observatory
Kazakhstan, lying at the heart of Central Asia on the Old Silk Road, is a massive country spanning 2,717,300 square kilometres from the Caspian Sea to western China; an area the size of the whole of western Europe! Yet, with a population of just 17 million, mostly living in the cities, this is a land of vast open and unpeopled spaces. Great stone and sand deserts, and wide grassy steppes occupy the majority of the country, interspersed with such great inland lakes as Lake Balkhash and the Aral Sea. In dramatic contrast, along its south-eastern borders stand the mighty Tien Shan Mountains, the 1,000-mile spine of Central Asia and northern extension of the Himalaya which waters flower-filled alpine meadows, lush forests of Tien Shan Spruce and lowland Turanga, and feeds the great lakes and inland deltas to the north. It is in these diverse habitats that you may hope to see such exciting avian specialities as Dalmatian Pelican, Saker Falcon, Himalayan Snowcock, Demoiselle Crane, Macqueen's Bustard, Ibisbill, Pallas's Sandgrouse, Eversmann's Stock Dove, White-winged Woodpecker, Himalayan Rubythroat, Eversmann's and Guldenstadt's Redstarts, Syke's Warbler, Desert Warbler, Severtzov's Tit-warbler, Azure Tit, Turkestan Tit, Rose-coloured Starling, Saxaul Sparrow, Red-mantled Rosefinch, White-winged Grosbeak, White-capped, Grey-necked and Red-headed Bunting.
Excellent itinerary that made the most of the spectacular scenery and wildlife. Reg and his team of local helpers led a most convivial group and gave us a thoroughly enjoyable and very memorable trip. Many thanks!
A range of different habitats were visited and this resulted in a range of great bird species.
Coach was ideal for number of staff/participants. Staff worked well together and good camaraderie with participants. Full on birding which is what I hoped for. Experienced leader. MacQueen's Bustard and White-winged Larks.
An excellent trip which I enjoyed very much. Thanks to all involved.
Itinerary was well set out and day trips in the field were well thought out, particularly for target species. Reg and the team worked hard and gave value for money during long days. Food was good to very good, including the lunches. Although seeking target species we covered a range of habitats and landscape which was spectacular in the least. Great trip!
Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr
The holiday was flawless and a wonderful experience. There is no aspect of the tour that could be criticised.
The balance between different habitats; desert, mountain, water, marsh - worked well given the time/distances involved. It was good to be on a trip where 'birding' was the main theme - morning until night.
Good friendly group that gelled well. Very pleased with the generally excellent views of the spectacular birds.
Really enjoyable trip with good company.
Great trip to a little known country. Reg very good/excellent. All went smoothly. Final night in hotel worked very well. Excellent list of new birds.
On the whole an exciting and enjoyable trip which brought watching Himalayan species in snow covered mountains and finding eastern specialities in the baking desert into the same holiday.
Almost faultless, outstanding birding everyday, ground arrangements first class, even when the camp was flattened a suitable alternative was found which I found remarkable. Well done Naturetrek - right destinations, right price, right now.
Overall, a splendid holiday which exceeded my expectations!
To see the wide Russian Steppe reaching to the horizon and backed by clear snowy mountains, to hear the endless wind, the calls of Sandgrouse and Cranes, plus 100,00+ larks - a long held dream come true.
Tyne & Wear
It was a very good and enjoyable trip. We saw all the expected star birds. John Ryan ensuring each and every member of the group had good views of the birds. I was very impressed with John and the smooth way in which the tour progressed.
You should regard Tony Smith as a priceless asset. He was absolutely brilliant: encyclopaedic knowledge, boundless enthusiasm, great warmth and good humour, and a real determination to ensure that everyone saw everything that was going. Kan Tengri (the ground agents) were also outstandingly good. The local guide, interpreter, driver and his colleague were all really excellent.
Another excellent trip which we enjoyed immensely. The whole trip was excellent fun! In addition, the birding was good - we seemed to find all the birds on my wish list!
It was a brilliant trip and one which will stick in the mind forever.
It was a brilliant trip with an almost 100% success rate and I would recommend it to anyone thinking of going.
D. & V.I.
May we say how excellent the care and organization were. Nothing was too much trouble and they went to endless effort to make sure we were all happy (which we certainly were!). All in all an excellent trip, one of our best holidays ever!!!
A. & C.Q.
We were very lucky and privileged to have Tony Smith as our leader. His knowledge, enthusiasm and friendly character ensured a really enjoyable tour. He ensured that everyone of us got the maximum possible enjoyment and any problem that arose he dealt with quietly and efficiently.